Video telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation an ‘effective alternative’ for patients with COPD
Video telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation conferred similar benefits to center-based pulmonary rehabilitation in adults with COPD, according to a study published in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
“The limited access to center-based [pulmonary rehabilitation], especially in light of increasing closure of [pulmonary rehabilitation] centers due to poor reimbursement and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, provides an impetus to find alternative avenues for administration of [pulmonary rehabilitation],” Surya P. Bhatt, MD, MSPH, medical director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Pulmonary Function and Exercise Physiology Lab and professor in the division of pulmonary, allergy and critical care medicine, and colleagues wrote.
Researchers reported results from 32 adults with COPD (mean age, 64.8 years; 50% women; 22% Black; baseline FEV1, 1.14 L) who were unable to access center-based rehabilitation due to distance or insurance coverage who completed at least 20 sessions of real-time video pulmonary rehabilitation from August 2018 to June 2020. To assess FEV1 after intervention, researchers retrospectively group-matched patients’ post-intervention assessments with 96 individuals who completed center-based rehabilitation (mean age, 67 years; 57% women).
The researchers evaluated and compared all patients’ functional capacity and dyspnea before and after intervention between patients who received tele-rehabilitation and patients who received center-based rehabilitation.
Both center-based pulmonary rehabilitation and tele-rehabilitation were associated with clinically important improvements in dyspnea according to the San Diego Shortness of Breath Questionnaire (–11.1 and –15.1) and functional capacity measured by 6-minute walk distance (47.3 m and 55 m; P < .001 for both). A similar percentage of patients achieved a minimally clinically important change score of 5 units for dyspnea (61.3% and 65.6%) and 26 m for 6-minute walk distance (65.1% and 66.3%) between the tele-rehabilitation and center-based rehabilitation groups. The researchers reported that there were no significant differences in change in San Diego Shortness of Breath Questionnaire score (4.0; 95% CI, –3.2 to 11.2; P = .27) or 6-minute walk distance (7.7 m; 95% CI, –37.6 to 22.2; P = .61) between those who received tele-rehabilitation and those who received center-based rehabilitation.
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There were no adverse events reported with tele-rehabilitation.
“We demonstrated that a video telehealth pulmonary rehabilitation confers benefits similar to those observed in center-based pulmonary rehabilitation, and is an effective alternative that may overcome some of the barriers to access noted with center-based pulmonary rehabilitation,” Bhatt and colleagues wrote.