A meta-analysis on the structure of pulmonary rehabilitation maintenance programmes on COPD patients' functional capacity.

03 Oct 2022


Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) improves functional capacity, health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in COPD patients, and maintenance programmes are relevant in preserving those improvements. However, little is known about the structure of maintenance programmes after PR. We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis of experimental and quasi-experimental studies evaluating individuals with COPD admitted to a maintenance PR programme, delivered after an initial PR programme. We reported functional capacity evaluation (6-minute-walking-test), HRQoL, dyspnoea and symptom control. Searches were performed on the 11 April 2021 using MEDLINE, Embase, EBSCO, CINAHL, Web of Science and Cochrane Library. We extracted summary-level data from trial publications and used a random-effects model, predicting that severe heterogeneity was detected. The protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42021247724). Fifteen studies were included in the meta-analysis, with 1151 participants. Maintenance programmes were associated with a pooled mean increase of 27.08 meters in 6mWT (CI: 10.39 to 43.77; I = 93%; p < 0.0001), being better in supervised, long (>12 month) home-based programmes; and having a potential MD of -4.20 pts in SGRQ (CI: -4.49 to -3.91; I = 0%; p = 0.74). Regarding dyspnoea and exacerbations, we found a nonsignificant trend for improvement after maintenance PR programmes. Severe COPD patients showed smaller improvements in programmes up to a year. Overall, the strength of the underlying evidence was moderate. Despite limitations of risk of bias and heterogeneity, our results support that home-based, supervised, long-term maintenance PR programmes may significantly improve functional capacity in COPD patients and HRQoL.

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Resource information

Respiratory conditions
  • COPD
Respiratory topics
  • Rehabilitation
Type of resource
Peer-reviewed article
Silva L, Maricoto T, Costa P, Berger-Estilita J, Padilha JM