Pulmonary Rehabilitation Models for COPD
rehabilitation is an intervention consisting of various programs designed to improve the health and
well-being of people with chronic respiratory conditions through the adoption of and adherence to
health-promoting behaviors. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are based on a patient's individual health
assessment and tailored to their specific goals and needs. They typically feature a team of healthcare
professionals across a patient's care portfolio. Specialists may include
respiratory therapists, dietitians or nutritionists, physical and occupational therapists, and psychologists.
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs supplement other medical interventions – such as medications, vaccinations,
and the use of supplemental oxygen – by emphasizing improvements in physical functionality as a result of
long-term behavior change. As such, pulmonary rehabilitation is an appropriate intervention for most individuals
with COPD. Typical components of pulmonary rehabilitation include exercise training and education.
Education. Informing patients about how COPD impacts their body can inform them about
appropriate treatment options and empower them to manage their symptoms. Personalized education is best to
address patients' unique health needs and concerns. Education may include aspects of self-management.
Exercise. Exercise training can help strengthen lung muscles and improve lung function
through activities like endurance training, interval training, or strength training. Exercise interventions
should address arms and legs in addition to cardio, flexibility, and other muscle training.
Examples of Pulmonary Rehabilitation Models
The Appalachian Pulmonary Health Project is a regional collaboration with the national network of Grace Anne
Dorney Pulmonary Rehabilitation Centers. This community-based pulmonary
rehabilitation program has achieved outcomes
on par with similar programs in larger hospitals and academic settings.
In rural Worland, Wyoming, the Washakie Medical
Center is offering pulmonary rehabilitation to its nearby residents. Their pulmonary rehabilitation
program offers exercise training, motivational counseling, nutrition information, and disease management
Considerations for Implementation
Pulmonary rehabilitation programs are one of the most efficacious treatments in managing COPD. However, access
to pulmonary rehabilitation in rural communities is frequently limited. Rural COPD patients often have to travel
long distances to access these types of programs. Even when pulmonary rehabilitation services may be nearby,
primary care providers may not be aware of the services and therefore not make referrals.
Additionally, healthcare providers should not assume that education alone will result in behavior change for all
patients. They should maintain effective relationships with patients to help them turn this information into
Program Clearinghouse Examples
Resources to Learn More
Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Education in Pulmonary Rehabilitation
Workshop report gives an overview of the current state of education as part of pulmonary rehabilitation,
including a literature review, and suggestions for enhancing educational components.
Organization(s): American Thoracic Society
Health Topics: Pulmonary
Provides an overview of pulmonary rehabilitation and what patients should expect.
Organization(s): National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
is Pulmonary Rehabilitation
An overview of pulmonary rehabilitation clinic services and a map featuring pulmonary rehabilitation centers
across the nation.
Organization(s): COPD Foundation