Research literature, based largely on studies conducted in the USA and Australia, suggests that rural and urban residents differ on health status variables. This assumption was examined in an exploratory study conducted in the UK. The experience of arthritis in rural communities was explored through interviews and comparisons were made between rural and urban participants attending an educational intervention designed to improve self-management ability. Results showed that rural residents valued their independence and the sense of community spirit. Contrary to expectations, urban rather than rural residents showed greater psychological distress. However, the effectiveness of the educational intervention was found to be independent of location; both urban and rural dwellers appeared to derive similar benefits.