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What is the Program About?


Pulmonary rehabilitation is defined as:

“..an evidence-based, multi-disciplinary, and comprehensive intervention for patients with chronic respiratory diseases who are symptomatic and often have decreased daily life activities. Integrated into the individualized treatment of the patient, pulmonary rehabilitation is designed to reduce symptoms, optimize functional status, increase participation, and reduce health care costs through stabilizing or reversing systemic manifestations of the disease.” [For further details, see: Nici et al 2006; Ries et al, 2007]

The structure and delivery of programs are diverse and dependent upon available resources, but the aims remain the same. A number of pulmonary rehabilitation guidelines have been published [For further details, see: Ries et al 2007; Nici et al 2006]. However, this toolkit provides health professionals with practical, evidence-based guidance for establishing a pulmonary rehabilitation program.

The primary components of a comprehensive program are:

  1. Patient assessment.
  2. Patient exercise training.
  3. Patient education.
  4. Program evaluation.
  5. Maintenance.

Incorporating these components in a self-management framework encourages ongoing adherence and can improve psychosocial wellbeing and independence.

Pulmonary rehabilitation should be part of the care continuum for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).  An increase in the number of pulmonary rehabilitation programs around Australia is needed due to the high prevalence of COPD and the associated increasing healthcare costs.


The primary aims of pulmonary rehabilitation are:

  1. To reduce activity limitation and participation restriction of persons with chronic lung diseases.
  2. To restore patients to the highest possible level of independent functioning.

The goals of pulmonary rehabilitation are to:

  • Increase exercise tolerance in order to reduce impairment.
  • Improve adherence to recommended treatments.
  • Reduce frequency and severity of symptoms.
  • Improve mood and motivation.
  • Reduce dependency.
  • Enhance participation in therapy decisions by building self-management capacity.
  • Increase participation in everyday activities.
  • Improve quality of life.
  • Reduce health care burden for patients, families and communities.
  • Improve survival.