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Canadian Respiratory Journal
Volume 22, Issue 3, Pages 147-152
Original Article

Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Canada: A Report from the Canadian Thoracic Society COPD Clinical Assembly

Pat G Camp,1,2,3 Paul Hernandez,4 Jean Bourbeau,5 Ashley Kirkham,1 Richard Debigare,6,7 Michael K Stickland,8,9 Donna Goodridge,10 Darcy D Marciniuk,10 Jeremy D Road,11 Mohit Bhutani,8 and Gail Dechman12

1Centre for Heart Lung Innovation, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
2Department of Physical Therapy, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
3St Paul’s Hospital, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
4Department of Medicine, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
5Respiratory Epidemiology and Clinical Research Unit, Montreal Chest Institute, McGill University Health Centre, Montreal, Canada
6Department of Rehabilitation, Université Laval, Québec, Canada
7Centre de Recherche de l’Institut Universitaire de Cardiologie et de Pneumologie de Québec, Québec, Canada
8Pulmonary Division, Department of Medicine, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
9GF MacDonald Centre for Lung Health (Covenant Health), Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
10Division of Respirology, Critical Care and Sleep Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
11Department of Medicine, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
12School of Physiotherapy, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Copyright © 2015 Canadian Thoracic Society. This open-access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License (CC BY-NC) (, which permits reuse, distribution and reproduction of the article, provided that the original work is properly cited and the reuse is restricted to noncommercial purposes.


BACKGROUND: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is a recommended intervention in the management of individuals with chronic lung disease. It is important to study the characteristics and capacity of programs in Canada to confirm best practices and identify future areas of program improvement and research.

OBJECTIVE: To identify all Canadian PR programs, regardless of setting, and to comprehensively describe all aspects of PR program delivery. The present article reports the results of the survey related to type of program, capacity and program characteristics.

METHODS: All hospitals in Canada were contacted to identify PR programs. A representative from each program completed a 175-item online survey encompassing 16 domains, 10 of which are reported in the present article.

RESULTS: A total of 155 facilities in Canada offered PR, of which 129 returned surveys (83% response rate). PR programs were located in all provinces, but none in the three territories. Most (60%) programs were located in hospital settings, 24% were in public health units and 8% in recreation centres. The national capacity of programs was estimated to be 10,280 patients per year, resulting in 0.4% of all Canadians with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and 0.8% of Canadians with moderate to severe COPD having access to PR. COPD, interstitial lung disease, and asthma were the most common diagnoses of patients. The majority of programs had at least four health care professionals involved; 9% had only one health care professional involved.

CONCLUSION: The present comprehensive survey of PR in Canada reports an increase in the number of programs and the total number of patients enrolled since the previous survey in 2005. However, PR capacity has not kept pace with demand, with only 0.4% of Canadians with COPD having access.