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To study a comparison of problems arising in pulmonary rehabilitation programs in North America, Europe, and Tokyo.The survey instrument was a 13-item questionnaire sent in December 1994 to institutions in North America (n = 178), Europe (n = 179), and Tokyo (n = 399).Response rates were 51%, 40%, and 51% for North America, Europe, and Tokyo, respectively. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs were available at 56% of hospitals in North America and 74% in Europe, but at only 20% of hospitals in Tokyo. Most PRPs were conducted in an outpatient setting in North America (98%), whereas both outpatient (55%) and inpatient programs (65%) were adopted in Europe. Although the type of lung disease for which patients in both North America and Europe were referred to PRPs was mainly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, this accounted for only 34% of referrals in Tokyo. However, referrals for primary tuberculosis sequelae (P = 0.028) and bronchiectasis (P = 0.021) were more common in Europe, similar to the situation in Tokyo. The following PRP items were available at significantly higher rates in North America than in Europe, and most were unavailable in Tokyo: family education, psychological support, nutritional instruction, treadmill, bicycle ergometer, walking training, and increasing the activity of daily living.Pulmonary rehabilitation programs in North America are more multidimensional. However, target diseases differ among North America, Europe, and Tokyo. Pulmonary rehabilitation programs in Tokyo differed from those in North America and Europe and were poorly programmed. Problems arising in PRPs in the three regions include lack of staff and insufficient reimbursement.