Scientific evidence to support the content and structure of the education component of a pulmonary rehabilitation program is limited. Survey data and expert opinion have been used to identify recommended educational topics.
Based on results from a survey* of patients who had completed a pulmonary rehabilitation program, the most important educational topics (in order) were:
- The role and correct use of medications.
- Breathing techniques / managing breathlessness.
- Physical exercise.
- Nutrition / healthy eating.
- Information on diseases (e.g. what the lungs do).
- Coping with chronic lung disease and management of depression, anxiety and panic attacks.
These topics should form the basis of the education component of a pulmonary rehabilitation program. These topics should be covered early in the program.
* The survey was conducted by Lung Foundation Australia in 2000. The survey data were obtained from more than 200 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in Australia, who had attended pulmonary rehabilitation programs.
Other education topics may include:
- Sputum clearance.
- Energy conservation techniques.
- Sexuality issues.
- Community resources, legal issues and palliative care.
- Home Oxygen
Delivery of education within a pulmonary rehabilitation program should be individualised for each patient. Not all education topics may be relevant or desirable for all patients and participation in group sessions may be voluntary. The format of the content and the level of detail in the education sessions should be determined based on the:
- Needs of the participants.
- Availability of resources.
- Level of staff expertise.
Taking the above points into consideration, the online patient education tool C.O.P.E (COPD online patient education) could be considered as an appropriate option for patients to undertake specific educational components to compliment their pulmonary rehabilitation program.