Strategies to improve referral to and participation in pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) should be developed, according to Australian researchers who discovered that just over half of the patients admitted to the hospital with COPD exacerbations had ever been referred for PR, and only 18% had completed at least half of the prescribed sessions.

Existing research has demonstrated that pulmonary rehab significantly reduces dyspnoea and fatigue; improves exercise capacity, emotional function and people’s sense of control over their disease; and reduces health-care utilization, according to researchers.

However, of the 88 patients evaluated for their study, only 16% patients reported that they had discussed rehabilitation with the medical team and been referred for PR.

“Further qualitative data to examine structural and behavioral barriers to referral and implementation of rehabilitation for people with COPD is indicated,” the authors concluded. “Given the lack of improvement in this area in Australia and internationally during the last decade, translational research that goes beyond describing the problem, to implementing sustainable interventions based on sound theoretical models is urgently required.”