Strategies to Improve Enrollment and Participation in Pulmonary Rehabilitation Following a Hospitalization for COPD: RESULTS OF A NATIONAL SURVEY

Author Department

Healthcare Quality

Document Type

Article, Peer-reviewed

Publication Date



Purpose: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) improves outcomes for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD); however, very few patients attend. We sought to describe strategies used to promote participation in PR after a hospitalization for COPD.

Methods: We surveyed a random sample of 323 US-based PR programs. Using a positive deviance approach, we developed a 39-item survey based on interviews with clinicians at hospitals demonstrating high rates of participation in PR. Items focused on strategies used to promote participation as well as relevant contextual factors.

Results: We received responses from 209 programs (65%), of which 88% (n = 184) were hospital-based outpatient facilities. Most (91%, n = 190) programs described enrolling patients continuously, and 80% (n = 167) reported a wait time from referral to the initial PR visit of <4 wk. Organization-level strategies to increase referral to PR included active surveillance (48%, n = 100) and COPD-focused staff (49%, n = 102). Provider-level strategies included clinician education (45%, n = 94), provider outreach (43%, n = 89), order sets (45%, n = 93), and automated referrals (23%, n = 48). Patient-level strategies included bedside education (53%, n = 111), flyers (49%, n = 103), motivational interviewing (33%, n = 69), financial counseling (64%, n = 134), and transportation assistance (35%, n = 73). Fewer than one-quarter (18%, n = 38) of PR programs reported using both bedside education and automatic referral, and 42% (n = 88) programs did not use either strategy.

Conclusions: This study describes current practices in the United States, and highlights opportunities for improvement at the organization, provider, and patient level. Future research needs to demonstrate the effectiveness of these strategies, alone or in combination.