Long-term outcome after respiratory rehabilitation.
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To determine the long-term effect of respiratory rehabilitation, we followed up for 6 months after discharge 31 consecutive patients enrolled in a multidisciplinary inpatient rehabilitation program lasting 4 to 6 weeks. Of the 31, 24 showed improvement in quality of life (as measured with a previously validated questionnaire) and in functional exercise capacity (as measured with the 6-minute walk test) 2 weeks after discharge. The improvement was sustained for 6 months in 11 of the 24. Other investigators have found higher response rates than those that we report. The differences are likely due to our enrolment of consecutive patients, the length and completeness of follow-up, and the objective measurement of quality of life by an interviewer not associated with the rehabilitation program. Controlled trials of respiratory rehabilitation measuring both costs and benefits are warranted. In the meantime, strategies to maintain the initial improvement seen after rehabilitation should be developed and studied.
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