How Effective is Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis?

Illustration of the lungs
Illustration of the lungs
Pulmonary rehabilitation has proved effective for patients with COPD; is it similarly effective for patients with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis?

Pulmonary rehabilitation resulted in similar completion rates and improvements in exercise response for both idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), according to the results of a recent study published in the journal CHEST.

Patients with IPF and COPD were evaluated and compared with respect to their completion and response rates to pulmonary rehabilitation following participation in the same supervised, outpatient pulmonary rehabilitation program.

A total of 163 patients with IPF were matched 1:1 with a control group of 163 patients with COPD. In the primary study outcome, pulmonary rehabilitation completion rates were similar between the 2 groups: 69% for IPF and 63% for COPD. Furthermore, similar improvements in exercise response were observed in both groups, with no significant between-group differences in incremental shuttle walk change.

The study authors wrote, “Compared with a matched group of patients with COPD, this real-word study demonstrates that patients with IPF have similar completion rates and magnitude of response to pulmonary rehabilitation.” They added, “These data reinforce the benefits of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients with IPF.”

Disclosure: Several study authors declared affiliations with the pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Nolan CM, Polgar O, Schofield SJ, et al. Pulmonary rehabilitation in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and COPD: a propensity matched real-world study. Chest. Published online October 23, 2021. doi:10.1016/j.chest.2021.10.021