Our Journey – involving Aboriginal Clients in Pulmonary Rehabilitation

Mrs Susan Bostock1, Ms Selena West1, Fiona Coll1, Chilton Yarran1, Carol Watson1

1Royal Perth Hospital, Perth, Australia

Background: Royal Perth Hospital (RPH) is a tertiary teaching hospital located in the Central Business District of Perth City.  Annually, there are approximately 300 admissions of Aboriginal patients to RPH each year with a respiratory condition. It is recognised that PR is considered best practice in adults with stable chronic respiratory disease. There has been a very low rate of referral of Aboriginal patients (less than 2 per year) to the Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) program at RPH.

Intervention: A collaborative project was established between the RPH Physiotherapy Department and the East Metropolitan Health Service Aboriginal Health Unit to increase utilisation of PR services within RPH by this population group.

The main features of this project included:

  1. The provision of an Aboriginal staff member to be a mentor and support patients throughout the initial assessment and exercise classes,
  2. The production of a culturally relevant plain language booklet “Living Better with Lung Disease through Exercise” with videos of the individual exercises downloadable onto personal electronic devices
  3. The production of a culturally sensitive demonstrative video of the PR exercise class

Outcome: The program has demonstrated moderate success with 9 referrals in 2018 (2 patients attending PR programs) and 14 referrals in 2019 (8 attending PR programs). Of those attending the PR program in 2019, 5 completed the full program.

Future directions: further collaboration is required to continue to promote referrals into PR for this population group and ideally take the program into the community


Senior Physiotherapist working in Respiratory Medicine at Royal Perth Hospital. Areas of interest include pulmonary rehabilitation and exercise prescription in chronic illness, airway clearance and breathing pattern disorders.

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