Access to Pulmonary Rehabilitation among Medicare Beneficiaries with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Gargya Malla, Sandeep Bodduluri, Vivek Sthanam, Gulshan Sharma, Surya P. Bhatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Rationale: Pulmonary rehabilitation (PR) remains substantially underused as a treatment modality for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). A major barrier to the uptake of PR is the poor availability of and access to PR. Objectives: To quantify patients' access to PR centers in the United States. Methods: Using the 100% Medicare population with coverage for 2018, four geodesic distance-based buffers of 10-, 15-, 25-, and 50-mi radii around the geographic centroid of each ZIP code with at least one beneficiary with COPD were created. Street addresses of PR centers across the continental United States were geocoded. We calculated the distance between the residential ZIP code centroid and the closest PR center. The proportions of individuals with at least one PR center available within the four distance buffers were calculated overall as well as in metropolitan, micropolitan, small-town, and rural areas. Results: Of 62,930,784 Medicare beneficiaries, 10,376,949 (16.5%) had COPD. There were 1,696 PR centers across the United States, with one PR center for every 6,030 individuals with COPD. Mean distance to the nearest PR center was 12.4 (standard deviation, 16.6) mi. Overall, the proportions of individuals with COPD who had PR centers available within 10-, 15-, 25-, and 50-mi radii were 61.5%, 73.2%, 86.6%, and 97.1%, respectively. Proportions for rural areas were 11.3%, 24.3%, 53.4%, and 88.6%, respectively. Compared with those living in metropolitan areas, those living in rural areas were 95% less likely to have PR centers within 10 mi of their residences (odds ratio, 0.048 [95% confidence interval, 0.039-0.057]). Conclusions: In a nationally representative sample of Medicare beneficiaries, we found that two-fifths of adults with COPD overall, and eight in nine of those in rural areas, have poor access to PR.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)516-522
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of the American Thoracic Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • COPD
  • PR
  • access

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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