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Evidence to Improve Care

Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Ontario


Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee Recommendations

The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee reaffirms the recommendations it made in 2012, namely:

  • ongoing access to existing pulmonary rehabilitation for the management of moderate to severe stable chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and

  • the use of pulmonary rehabilitation in patients following an acute exacerbation (within one month of hospital discharge).

Further, based on a field evaluation study, the committee recommends increased availability of resources for pulmonary rehabilitation following discharge for patients who have had an acute exacerbation of COPD.

Read the full OHTAC Recommendation



Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is a serious lung disease that substantially reduces life expectancy and quality of life. Symptoms of this disease include shortness of breath, a long-lasting cough, a cough with mucus, wheezing and fatigue. In Canada, almost all cases of COPD are caused by smoking cigarettes.


Health Quality Ontario Reviews Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a treatment program tailored for people with COPD who have difficulty breathing even though they take medication. The program provides exercise training and education about living with the disease. It helps patients reduce flare-ups (exacerbations) and have the best possible quality of life.

There are concerns that pulmonary rehabilitation is underused, although it is considered the standard of care for patients with moderate to severe chronic lung disease. About 380,000 people living with COPD in Ontario could potentially benefit from pulmonary rehabilitation.


Pulmonary Rehabilitation in Ontario: A Cross-Sectional Survey (PDF)
March 2015

Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Postacute Exacerbations of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): A Cost-Effectiveness and Budget Impact Analysis (PDF)
February 2015

Related Resources

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD): OHTAC Recommendation (PDF)
March 2012

Pulmonary Rehabilitation for Patients with Chronic Pulmonary Disease (COPD): An Evidence-Based Analysis (PDF)
March 2012


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The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is currently reviewing this recommendation.

The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care has provided the following response: The Ministry has a standardized process in place to review Health Quality Ontario recommendations. This takes into consideration Ministry priorities, implementation options, the need for consultation with impacted stakeholders, and funding considerations.




Health Technology Assessment at Health Quality Ontario

As part of our core function to promote health care supported by the best available evidence, we use established scientific methods to analyze the evidence for a wide range of health interventions, including diagnostic tests, medical devices, interventional and surgical procedures, health care programs and models of care. These analyses are informed by input from a range of individuals, including patients and clinical experts. The Ontario Health Technology Advisory Committee (OHTAC) — a committee of the Health Quality Ontario board of directors — reviews the evidence and makes recommendations about whether health care interventions should be publicly funded or not. Draft recommendations are posted on the Health Quality Ontario website for feedback. Final recommendations are approved by our board of directors and then shared with the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. For more detailed information, visit our Evidence to Improve Care pages.


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