1. Porto, Elias F. PT, PhD
  2. Castro, Antonio A. M. PT, PhD
  3. Cortopassi, Felipe PT, RPFT, MBA
  4. de Souza, Gerson F. PT, PhD
  5. Jardim, Jose R. MD, PhD


Purpose: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) improves exercise tolerance in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. However, it is unclear why some patients do not improve quality of life during a training program. Our objective was to evaluate the differences between patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who improve and those who do not improve quality of life during a pulmonary rehabilitation program.


Methods: Seventy-three patients underwent a PR program. All patients trained at 80% (legs) and 50% (arms) of their maximum load. Incremental and endurance tests, 6-min walk test, and health-related quality of life with the St George Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) were measured. We subdivided the groups based on a decrease >=4 points in the pre- and post-PR SGRQ total score (G1); <4-point change in the SGRQ total score (G2); and an increase in scores >=4 points (G3).


Results: Exacerbation frequency (P = .004) and SGRQ total scores (P < .001) were lower in G1 and G2 than in G3. G1 (P = .0007) and G2 (P = .0005) significantly improved 6-min walk test distance. Before PR, G1 and G2 walked greater distances than G3 (P = .003); however, the difference was no longer significant after PR (P = .34). A significant load increase was seen after PR for the 3 groups (P < .05). We found a significant correlation between the SGRQ and the Charlson index (r = 0.78, P < .0001), exacerbation frequency (r = 0.72, P < .0001), and basal dyspnea index (r = -0.48, P < .0001).


Conclusion: Patients whose quality of life did not improve after comprehensive PR presented a higher number of disease-related exacerbations with comorbidities.