BACKGROUND: Patients with pulmonary fibrosis are living longer and present with an increasing number of comorbidities over time. Pulmonary rehabilitation, as a nonpharmacological approach, may be promising in these patients, although there is limited information on the impact of pulmonary rehabilitation on exercise tolerance and quality of life. Thus, conducting a systematic review and meta-analysis, the purpose of this study was to determine the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation on exercise tolerance and quality of life in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.
METHODS: We searched MEDLINE, Cochrane Library, Embase, Scielo, PEDro, and CINAHL (from the earliest date available to June 2016) for trials. Study selection included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) that examined the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. Two reviewers selected studies independently. Data were extracted from published RCTs. Study quality was evaluated using the PEDro scale. Weighted mean differences, standard mean differences, and 95% CIs were calculated.
RESULTS: We analyzed data from 5 RCTs comparing a pulmonary rehabilitation group with a control group. Pulmonary rehabilitation improved exercise tolerance weighted mean differences (44 m; 95% CI, 5.3-82.8) compared with no exercise. The meta-analyses also showed significant improvement in symptoms, impact, and total score from the St George's Respiratory Questionnaire for participants in pulmonary rehabilitation compared with control. No serious adverse events were reported.
CONCLUSION: Pulmonary rehabilitation is effective in increasing exercise tolerance and improving quality of life in patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.