PURPOSE: The purpose of this study was to determine the impact of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease exacerbation (COPDE) on pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) participation and completion and on PR outcomes of daily activity, self-reported daily exercise, and functional capacity.
METHODS: Participants in an 8-week outpatient PR program were studied pre- and post-PR. Variables included COPDE occurrence (computerized patient record system), self-reported exercise (daily activity diary), daily activity (accelerometer), exercise capacity (6-minute walk distance), dyspnea today and over the past 30 days (Lareau's Functional Status and Dyspnea Questionnaire), health status (The Medical Outcomes Study 36-Item Short-Form Health Survey adapted for Veterans), and quality of life (Seattle Obstructive Lung Disease Questionnaire).
RESULTS: Outpatients with COPD (N = 146, 140 men) started PR; 112 completed the program and were studied. Of the 30 participants who had at least 1 COPDE during the program, 10 quit the program. Subjects who exacerbated had a lower body mass index than did patients without COPDE (28.4 compared with 30.8, respectively, P < .05), more severe COPD (percent-predicted forced expiratory volume in the first second of expiration, FEV1% predicted, 32%, compared with 40%, respectively, P< .05), and required supplemental oxygen (70% compared with 36%, respectively, P< .05). Exacerbators who completed PR were more likely to be nonsmokers, on oxygen, and have a higher FEV1% predicted than were exacerbators who quit. It was found that postprogram exercise capacity improved overall, with exacerbators performing better than nonexacerbators on the 6-minute walk test (P = .044). There were no significant differences in other outcomes.
CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that COPD exacerbators who completed PR had similar outcomes as did nonexacerbators and should be encouraged to return to PR after COPDE.