Although pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) improves function in people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a community-based exercise program may be necessary to maintain functional capacity. We aimed to determine the effectiveness of a post-rehabilitation, community-based maintenance program on exercise tolerance, functional capacity and quality of life.
Patients with COPD who completed PR were randomized to receive a community-based maintenance program (intervention) or usual care (control). The primary outcome was 6-min walk distance (6MWD), measured immediately post-PR, 6 months and 12 months later. Secondary outcomes included self-reported functional capacity, health-related quality of life, self-efficacy, program cost, and lower extremity muscle strength.
Ninety-seven patients (69 ± 9 years) were enrolled. There was a non-significant trend of an intervention effect on 6MWD over time (β = 42, 95% CI: 0.06 to 83.93, p = 0.053). There was no significant impact of group on any of the secondary outcomes. Restricting the analysis to those who attended ≥50% of the exercise sessions showed a significant intervention effect for 6MWD (β = 69.19, 95% CI = 10.16 to 128.22, p = 0.03). The cost of participating in the community maintenance program for the intervention group was $374.77 (SD 142.12) and membership renewal was highest at community centres offering twice weekly, supervised exercise classes.
A post rehabilitation, community-based exercise program, will maintain exercise capacity in people with COPD who attend at least 50% of available sessions over one year. An increased focus on factors that determine adherence would help inform improvements in maintenance program design.
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