Home-based pulmonary rehabilitation: More freedom for COPD patients


A team from the MUHC and the Hôpital Laval has proved the effectiveness of the home-based pulmonary rehabilitation program and suggests it be widely implemented. 
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is the fourth leading cause of death in Canada. Although it is an incurable chronic disease, effective treatments exist to relieve symptoms and improve the course of the illness. 

The latest study by Dr. François Maltais of the Hôpital Laval, institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec and Dr. Jean Bourbeau, of the McGill University Health Centre proves the effectiveness of home-based pulmonary rehabilitation and provides new insight into improving care services. The study will be published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine on December 16th. 

Home-based pulmonary rehabilitation: an effective and safe alternative

Pulmonary rehabilitation is currently the most effective treatment available to improve shortness of breath, effort tolerance and the quality of life of patients suffering from COPD. “Our results prove that home-based rehabilitation is just as effective and safe as that provided in hospitals,” states Dr. Maltais. “What’s more, it is a real benefit to patients in comparison to a strictly pharmacological treatment.”  

In spite of its obvious  benefit, only two per cent  of COPD patients in Canada are offered this treatment because health care facilities do not have the means to offer it in-house. In half of the regions of Québec, pulmonary rehabilitation is not even offered to patients.  

The home-based program designed by the Canadian researchers is based on aerobic exercises and can easily be performed alone. This helps to ease the burden on hospitals, while continuing to provide optimum care. This major study involved more than 250 patients in 10 Canadian centres.  

Towards a new health care system organisation?

“We hope that this study will lead to the reorganization of the system so that as many patients as possible will be able to benefit from the program,” Dr. Bourbeau explains. “Its widespread implementation could have a major positive impact both on the public’s health and on the health care system.”  

In addition to the economic beneficial interest of home-based treatment, the physical condition of patients improves to the point where they no longer require as many hospital visits. This program could therefore help to reduce expenses.  

This program reflects the current trend of involving patients in the management of their chronic illnesses. Education, accountability and making healthier lifestyle choices have a positive impact on most chronic illnesses, including COPD.  

This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec (FRSQ). 

Dr. Jean Bourbeau is Director of the Respiratory Epidemiology & Clinical Research Unit 
of the Montreal Chest Institute of the MUHC, and a researcher in the axes of “respiratory health” and “health outcomes” at the Research Institute of the MUHC. He is also assistant professor at McGill University’s departments of Medicine and Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health. Dr. Bourbeau is the Director of the COPD axes of the FRSQ’s Respiratory Health Network. 

Dr. François Maltais is a pneumologist at Hôpital Laval, Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de l’Université Laval and a full professor at that university’s department of medicine. He is the Medical Director of the respiratory rehabilitation program at his institute and Director of the respiratory health care research team at Université Laval. 

The Research Institute of the McGill University Health Centre (RI MUHC) is a world-renowned biomedical and health-care hospital research centre. Located in Montreal, Quebec, the institute is the research arm of the MUHC, the university health center affiliated with the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University. The institute supports over 600 researchers, nearly 1200 graduate and post-doctoral students and operates more than 300 laboratories devoted to a broad spectrum of fundamental and clinical research. The Research Institute operates at the forefront of knowledge, innovation and technology and is inextricably linked to the clinical programs of the MUHC, ensuring that patients benefit directly from the latest research-based knowledge.

The Research Institute of the MUHC is supported in part by the Fonds de la recherche en santé du Québec.

For further details visit: www.muhc.ca/research

About Hôpital Laval, Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec
Founded in 1918, Hôpital Laval, Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec, is the heart and lung institute of Université Laval. It provides the population of Central and Eastern Québec with subspecialized care and services in cardiology, pneumology, and the surgical management of obesity. The Hospital also has an in-house research center that is renowned worldwide and supported by Fonds de recherche en santé du Québec (Québec Health Research Council). The main goal of the Laval Hospital Research Center is to slow the obesity epidemic and the progression of cardiovascular and pulmonary disease through research and prevention. The Laval Hospital Research Center has focused its development around this vision and aims to become the leading North American research center in cardiology, pneumology, and obesity. The Hôpital Laval Research Center is one of the 38 affiliated research centers of Université Laval. Located in Québec City, Université Laval was the first francophone university created in North America. Its 17 faculties offer comprehensive programs to 38,000 students including 10,000 graduate students. www.HopitalLaval.qc.ca

Find this press release, with the original article and a short audio document by following this link : http://www.muhc.ca/media/news/ or http://www.hopitallaval.qc.ca/communiques.asp 

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Contact Information

Joël Clément
Hôpital Laval, institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec
joel [dot] clement [at] ssss [dot] gouv [dot] qc [dot] ca