Is pulmonary rehabilitation efficacious for interstitial lung disease? 

This review conducted by Leona Dowman and colleages in 2021 aims to assess the effects of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) on interstitial lung diseases (ILD).


ILD consists of a group of lung conditions that include idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, acute and chronic interstitial pneumonia, hypersensitivity pneumonitis, and sarcoidosis or connective tissue diseases. Patients with these diseases often complain of breathlessness and dyspnoea and therefore experience low levels of physical functioning and limitation in their activities and participation.


The authors focused this review on the study of the effects of PR on exercise capacity, symptoms, quality of life, and survival.


Twenty-one studies fulfilled the inclusion criteria. All studies compared pulmonary rehabilitation versus no pulmonary rehabilitation or a sham training control group. Settings included outpatient, inpatient, or home-based PR programmes such as telerehabilitation. Mean age ranged from 36 to 72 years old. The length of programmes ranged from five to 48 weeks. Modalities of training included the effects of aerobic training or a combination of aerobic and resistance training.


The authors found that PR probably improves the 6MWT, the peak workload, peak oxygen consumption, and maximum ventilation. PR may also reduce dyspnoea and could improve health-related quality of life.


This review found that PR can be performed safely in people with ILD and can improve functional exercise capacity, dyspnoea, and quality of life in the short term and sustained in the long term. Due to inadequate reporting of methods and the lack of blinding assessment and heterogeneity, the evidence was of low to moderate quality, so that further investigations on the topic should be performed.

Comment by Sara Laxe