Pulmonary Rehabilitation

While COPD has no cure, there are things that people can do to breathe easier, keep out of hospital and improve their quality of life – like complete Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Although Pulmonary Rehabilitation was originally designed for people with moderate to severe COPD, those with other respiratory disorders or chronic lung disease who experience disabling breathlessness can also benefit1. Pulmonary Rehabilitation is an evidence based, comprehensive program consisting of both education and exercise.

Evidence shows Pulmonary rehabilitation is one of the most effective interventions in COPD2,3  and has been shown to reduce symptoms, disability and handicap, reduce hospitalisation4,5 and to improve function by:

  • improving peripheral muscle function, cardiovascular fitness, muscle function and exercise endurance2,3,6
  • enhancing the patient’s emotional function, self-confidence and coping strategies, and improving adherence with medications2,7
  • improving mood by controlling anxiety and panic, decreasing depression, and reducing social impediments3

One of the key objectives of Lung Foundation Australia is to increase access to Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Australia. Currently there are close to 300 programs across the country for the estimated 1.45 million Australians with COPD8

The Lung Foundation has produced a range of resources to support existing programs and to facilitate the establishment of further Pulmonary Rehabilitation programs across the country. In an attempt to meet the key objective of increasing access to Pulmonary Rehabilitation, these developed resources; in addition to ongoing support services and training opportunities ensures health professionals have the knowledge base and skills to provide a successful evidence based pulmonary rehabilitation program. For further information on these support items and opportunities please view the list under Pulmonary Rehabilitation tab located on the left.

If you currently run Pulmonary Rehabilitation, but have not registered your program with the Lung Foundation’s pulmonary rehabilitation program database, we encourage you to contact us to provide your program details. We can support you by letting patients and referring clinicians know about your program.

Contact us by emailing enquiries@lungfoundation.com.au or phone 1800 654 301.


  1. FRITH, P. A manual for pulmonary rehabilitation in Australia: Evidence base and standards; Version 3; Revised 2008; p. 5; <http://lungfoundation.typeandpixel.com.au/images/stories/docs/copd/rehab_standards_v3_31_july_2008.pdf>; Accessed 07 June 2012.
  2. LACASSE, Y., GOLDSTEIN, R., LASSERSON, T. J. & MARTIN, S. (2006) Pulmonary rehabilitation for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cochrane Database Syst Rev, CD003793.
  3. RIES, A. L., BAULDOFF, G. S., CARLIN, B. W., CASABURI, R., EMERY, C. F., MAHLER, D. A., MAKE, B., ROCHESTER, C. L., ZUWALLACK, R. & HERRERIAS, C. (2007) Pulmonary Rehabilitation: Joint ACCP/AACVPR Evidence-Based Clinical Practice Guidelines. Chest, 131, 4S-42S.
  4. GRIFFITHS, T. L., BURR, M. L., CAMPBELL, I. A., LEWIS-JENKINS, V., MULLINS, J., SHIELS, K., TURNER-LAWLOR, P. J., PAYNE, N., NEWCOMBE, R. G., IONESCU, A. A., THOMAS, J. & TUNBRIDGE, J. (2000) Results at 1 year of outpatient multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation: a randomised controlled trial. Lancet, 355, 362-8.
  5. GRIFFITHS, T. L., PHILLIPS, C. J., DAVIES, S., BURR, M. L. & CAMPBELL, I. A. (2001) Cost effectiveness of an outpatient multidisciplinary pulmonary rehabilitation programme. Thorax, 56, 779-84.
  6. TROOSTERS, T., CASABURI, R., GOSSELINK, R. & DECRAMER, M. (2005) Pulmonary rehabilitation in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Am J Respir Crit Care Med, 172,19-38.
  7. MORGAN, M. D. L., CALVERLEY, P. M. A. & CLARK, C. J. (2001) Pulmonary rehabilitation. British Thoracic Society Standards of Care Subcommittee on Pulmonary Rehabilitation. Thorax, 56,827-34.
  8. Toelle B, Xuan W, Bird T, Abramson M, Atkinson D, Burton D, James A, Jenkins C, Johns D, Maguire G, Musk A, Walters E, Wood-Baker R, Hunter M, Graham B, Southwell P, Vollmer W, Buist A, Marks G. Respiratory symptoms and illness in older Australians: The Burden of Obstructive Lung Disease (BOLD) study. Med J Aust 2013;198:144-148


The COPD National Program receives unrestricted sponsorship towards the development of training and resources from the following companies:

Foundation Partners:

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