PURPOSE: Although there is substantial evidence to support the importance of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) in the management of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, there is less evidence for gender-associated differences in the response to PR. The purpose of this review was to systematically identify and synthesize the available literature on whether men and women with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease respond differently to PR.
METHODS: A search of 4 electronic databases was conducted (January 1990 to May 2012) for all English language articles where the goal was to assess gender differences in outcomes after PR.
RESULTS: Of the 116 articles retrieved, 11 were included. Five studies reported differences between men and women after PR, for the outcomes of dyspnea, health-related quality of life, physical capacity, psychological and functional status, and coping strategies. Six studies reported no difference in response to PR for the same outcomes. No differences in study designs, study quality, participant characteristics, and type and duration of PR programs were observed between studies that showed gender differences and those that did not.
CONCLUSION: There was insufficient evidence to support or refute gender-associated differences in PR outcomes. The impact of gender on the outcome of PR and how these differences may affect the delivery of PR programs remains to be defined.