Who refers patients?

Referrals to pulmonary rehabilitation programs can come from:

  • Respiratory specialists including physicians, surgeons, physiotherapists and nurses
  • General practitioners
  • General physicians
  • Oncologists
  • Thoracic Surgeons
  • Other allied health professionals
  • Community health professionals
  • Potential participants (i.e. self referrals)


A referral form should be available to referring health professionals and provided to the coordinator of the pulmonary rehabilitation program. 

After receiving the referral, the coordinator of the pulmonary rehabilitation program should contact the patient. The coordinator would normally be a health professional in charge of running the program. If the patient is a self-referral, the coordinator should check the patient’s eligibility with the patient’s general practitioner or respiratory specialist.

Invitation to Attend

Following referral to the program, the coordinator should invite the patient to attend via an invitation letter or a phone call.

The invitation should include:

  • An explanation that the patient has been referred to the program
  • An appointment date for an assessment
  • Options for rehabilitation (e.g face-to-face)
  • Options for parking and transport
  • A program brochure outlining the key elements of the program

Reporting Assessments

The coordinator should report the results of the patient assessments. This can take the form of an initial assessment letter and a final assessment letter, which summarise the results of assessments made before and after the program, respectively. The letter should include details of what outcomes measures were used eg 6MWT, oxygen saturation at rest and during exercise, and dysponea scores. All referred patients should attend a face-to-face assessment, if possible, even if the program will be delivered by telehealth.

Program Uptake (i.e. non-acceptance or non-attendance)

If patients do not respond to the written invitation, a  “did not respond to correspondence” letter can be sent to the referring health provider.

The flow chart below outlines the appropriate lines and methods of communication for referrals.



Invitation Letter
Referral Form
Pulmonary Rehabilitation Fact Sheet
Did not Respond to Correspondence Letter
Initial Assessment Letter
Final Assessment Letter

The Toolkit

Getting Started
Getting Started
Patient Assessment
Patient Assessment
Exercise Training
Exercise Training
Patient Education
Patient Education
Patient Re-assessment
Patient Re-Assessment
Additional Resources
Additional Resources

Endorsed by the following organisations according to their respective approved criteria: