Physical exercise during acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease: Australian physiotherapy practice

Jessica S. DeGaris, Christian R. Osadnik

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Evidence supports an important role for pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) after acute exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (AECOPD); however, the role of physical exercise during hospitalisation is less clear. This study evaluated Australian physiotherapy practice and clinical perspectives regarding exercise and physical activity for patients with AECOPD. A national survey of 123 Australian public hospitals was conducted from 2016 to 2017 using a purpose-designed survey measuring self-reported physical exercise prescription, objective measure use, referral patterns and factors influencing service delivery. The response rate was 72% (88 hospitals; 176 physiotherapists). Most physiotherapists (92%) prescribed physical exercise frequently for patients with AECOPD and perceived their role to be important (81%). The most commonly prescribed modalities were ground walking (94%), sit-to-stand (89%) and non-equipment-based lower limb strengthening (79%). Only 32% of respondents offered physiotherapy evaluation during post-discharge outpatient clinic appointments at their hospital. While 71% of respondents indicated they frequently referred patients to PR after AECOPD, rates were significantly higher in those with more cardiorespiratory experience (82%) than those with less experience (66%; p = 0.026). Australian physiotherapists frequently prescribe simple physical exercise modalities for patients with AECOPD. PR referral rates appear influenced by clinician experience, which may need consideration in future remedial strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-8
Number of pages8
JournalChronic Respiratory Disease
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2020


  • acute exacerbation
  • chronic obstructive
  • healthcare surveys
  • physical exercise
  • physical therapy modalities
  • Pulmonary disease

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