Improving chronic lung disease management in rural and remote Australia: The Breathe Easy Walk Easy programme


Catherine L. Johnston, Discipline of Physiotherapy, School of Health Sciences, The University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia. Email:


Background and objective:  To evaluate the impact of a chronic lung disease management training programme, Breathe Easy Walk Easy (BEWE), for rural and remote health-care practitioners.

Methods:  Quasi-experimental, before and after repeated measures design. Health-care practitioners (n = 33) from various professional backgrounds who attended the BEWE training workshop were eligible to participate. Breathe Easy Walk Easy, an interactive educational programme, consisted of a training workshop, access to online resources, provision of community awareness-raising materials and ongoing telephone/email support. Participant confidence, knowledge and attitudes were assessed via anonymous questionnaire before, immediately after and at 3 and 12 months following the BEWE workshop. At 12 months, local provision of pulmonary rehabilitation services and patient outcome data (6-min walk test results before and after pulmonary rehabilitation) were also recorded.

Results:  Measured knowledge (score out of 19) improved significantly after the workshop (mean difference 7.6 correct answers, 95% confidence interval: 5.8–9.3). Participants' self-rated confidence and knowledge also increased. At 12-month follow up, three locally run pulmonary rehabilitation programmes had been established. For completing patients, there was a significant increase in 6-min walk distance following rehabilitation of 48 m (95% confidence interval: 18–70 m).

Conclusions:  The BEWE programme increased rural and remote health-care practitioner knowledge and confidence in delivering management for people living with chronic lung disease and facilitated the establishment of effective pulmonary rehabilitation programmes in regional and remote Australian settings where access to such programmes is limited.