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      Interventions to increase referral and uptake to pulmonary rehabilitation in people with COPD: a systematic review

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          Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) reduces the number and duration of hospital admissions and readmissions, and improves health-related quality of life in patients with COPD. Despite clinical guideline recommendations, under-referral and limited uptake to PR contribute to poor treatment access. We reviewed published literature on the effectiveness of interventions to improve referral to and uptake of PR in patients with COPD when compared to standard care, alternative interventions, or no intervention. The review followed recognized methods. Search terms included “pulmonary rehabilitation” AND “referral” OR “uptake” applied to MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, PsycINFO, ASSIA, BNI, Web of Science, and Cochrane Library up to January 2018. Titles, abstracts, and full papers were reviewed independently and quality appraised. The protocol was registered (PROSPERO # 2016:CRD42016043762). We screened 5,328 references. Fourteen papers met the inclusion criteria. Ten assessed referral and five assessed uptake (46,146 patients, 409 clinicians, 82 hospital departments, 122 general practices). One was a systematic review which assessed uptake. Designs, interventions, and scope of studies were diverse, often part of multifaceted evidence-based management of COPD. Examples included computer-based prompts at practice nurse review, patient information, clinician education, and financial incentives. Four studies reported statistically significant improvements in referral (range 3.5%–36%). Two studies reported statistically significant increases in uptake (range 18%–21.5%). Most studies had methodological and reporting limitations. Meta-analysis was not conducted due to heterogeneity of study designs. This review demonstrates the range of approaches aimed at increasing referral and uptake to PR but identifies limited evidence of effectiveness due to the heterogeneity and limitations of study designs. Research using robust methods with clear descriptions of intervention, setting, and target population is required to optimize access to PR across a range of settings.

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          Most cited references 35

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          Cost effectiveness of an outpatient multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation programme.

          Pulmonary rehabilitation programmes improve the health of patients disabled by lung disease but their cost effectiveness is unproved. We undertook a cost/utility analysis in conjunction with a randomised controlled clinical trial of pulmonary rehabilitation versus standard care. Two hundred patients, mainly with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, were randomly assigned to either an 18 visit, 6 week rehabilitation programme or standard medical management. The difference between the mean cost of 12 months of care for patients in the rehabilitation and control groups (incremental cost) and the difference between the two groups in quality adjusted life years (QALYs) gained (incremental utility) were determined. The ratio between incremental cost and utility (incremental cost/utility ratio) was calculated. Each rehabilitation programme for up to 20 patients cost pound 12,120. The mean incremental cost of adding rehabilitation to standard care was pound -152 (95% CI -881 to 577) per patient, p=NS. The incremental utility of adding rehabilitation was 0.030 (95% CI 0.002 to 0.058) QALYs per patient, p=0.03. The point estimate of the incremental cost/utility ratio was therefore negative. The bootstrapping technique was used to model the distribution of cost/utility estimates possible from the data. A high likelihood of generating QALYs at negative or relatively low cost was indicated. The probability of the cost per QALY generated being below pound 0 was 0.64. This outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation programme produces cost per QALY ratios within bounds considered to be cost effective and is likely to result in financial benefits to the health service.
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            Differences in content and organisational aspects of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes.

            The aim was to study the overall content and organisational aspects of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes from a global perspective in order to get an initial appraisal on the degree of heterogeneity worldwide. A 12-question survey on content and organisational aspects was completed by representatives of pulmonary rehabilitation programmes that had previously participated in the European Respiratory Society (ERS) COPD Audit. Moreover, all ERS members affiliated with the ERS Rehabilitation and Chronic Care and/or Physiotherapists Scientific Groups, all members of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, and all American Thoracic Society Pulmonary Rehabilitation Assembly members were asked to complete the survey via multiple e-mailings. The survey has been completed by representatives of 430 centres from 40 countries. The findings demonstrate large differences among pulmonary rehabilitation programmes across continents for all aspects that were surveyed, including the setting, the case mix of individuals with a chronic respiratory disease, composition of the pulmonary rehabilitation team, completion rates, methods of referral and types of reimbursement. The current findings stress the importance of future development of processes and performance metrics to monitor pulmonary rehabilitation programmes, to be able to start international benchmarking, and to provide recommendations for international standards based on evidence and best practice.
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              Pulmonary rehabilitation referral and participation are commonly influenced by environment, knowledge, and beliefs about consequences: a systematic review using the Theoretical Domains Framework.

              What are the barriers and enablers of referral, uptake, attendance and completion of pulmonary rehabilitation for people with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)?

                Author and article information

                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis
                International Journal of COPD
                International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
                Dove Medical Press
                29 October 2018
                : 13
                : 3571-3586
                [1 ]Centre for Self-Management Support, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge, UK, frances.early@
                [2 ]Clinical Nursing Research Group, Primary Care Unit, Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK
                [3 ]Medical Library, University of Cambridge School of Clinical Medicine, Cambridge, UK
                Author notes
                Correspondence: Frances Early, Centre for Self-Management Support, Box 146, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 0QQ, UK, Tel +44 122 327 4858, Email frances.early@
                © 2018 Early et al. This work is published and licensed by Dove Medical Press Limited

                The full terms of this license are available at and incorporate the Creative Commons Attribution – Non Commercial (unported, v3.0) License ( By accessing the work you hereby accept the Terms. Non-commercial uses of the work are permitted without any further permission from Dove Medical Press Limited, provided the work is properly attributed.



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