Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is recognized as a systemic illness with significant extra-pulmonary features, such as exercise intolerance and muscle weakness. Pulmonary rehabilitation has been shown to be very effective in counteracting these consequences in patients with more advanced COPD. However, limited data is available on the efficacy of a physical exercise training programme in patients with mild to moderate COPD in primary care. Furthermore, it is unknown if improved exercise capacity translates into enhanced daily physical activities. The aim of this paper is to describe the design of a randomized controlled trial to assess the efficacy of a physical exercise training programme in patients with mild to moderate COPD. Methods/design: In this randomized controlled trial situated in the primary care setting, 102 patients with mild to moderate airflow obstruction (FEV1 >= 50% of predicted), dyspnoea and a physically inactive lifestyle will be randomized to an intervention or control group. The intervention group receives a 4-month physical exercise training programme at a local physiotherapy practice, which includes exercise training, resistance training, breathing exercises and advises on how to increase the level of physical activity. The control group receives usual care, i.e. advises on how to increase the level of physical activity and a sham treatment at a local physiotherapy practice of which no physiological training stimulus can be expected. Primary outcome is functional exercise capacity at 4-months measured on the six-minute walk distance. Secondary outcomes include peripheral muscle strength, physical activity in daily life, health related quality of life, Medical Research Council (MRC) dyspnoea score and patients' perceived effectiveness. Follow-up measurement will take place at 6 months after baseline. Discussion: This will be one of the first studies to evaluate the efficacy of a physical exercise training programme in patients with mild to moderate COPD completely recruited and assessed in primary care. The results of this trial may give a unique insight into the potential of the implementation of an easy, close-to-home rehabilitation programme.
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Exercise training
- Physical activity
- Primary care
- Randomized controlled trial
- OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY-DISEASE
- HEALTH-STATUS MEASUREMENT