How resources determine pulmonary rehabilitation programs: A survey among Belgian chest physicians
Despite overwhelming evidence of its benefits, a widespread implementation of pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) is lacking and the landscape of multidisciplinary programs remains very scattered. The objective of this study is to assess how PR is organized in specialized care centres in Belgium and to identify which barriers may exist according to respiratory physicians. A telephone and online survey was developed by a Belgian expert panel and distributed among all active Belgian chest physicians (n = 492). Data were obtained from 200 respondents (40%). Seventy-five percentage of the chest physicians had direct access to an ambulatory rehabilitation program in their hospital. Most of these programs are organized bi or triweekly for an average period of 3–6 months. Programs focus strongly on chronic obstructive pulmonary disease patients from secondary care, have a multidisciplinary approach and provide exercise capacity and quality of life measures as main outcomes. Yet large differences were observed in process and outcome indicators between the programs of centres with standard funding and those of specialized centres with a larger allocated budget. We conclude that multidisciplinary PR programs are available in the majority of Belgian hospitals. Differences in funding determine the quality of the team, the diversity of the interventions and the monitoring of outcomes. More resources for rehabilitation will directly improve the utilization and quality of this essential treatment option in respiratory diseases.