Three groups of 44 rheumatic patients were studied in a Regional Rheumatology Centre, and two out-patient clinics (one conducted by a consultant, the other by a nurse practitioner). A questionnaire determined their perceptions of staff members, their spouses, and the patients with whom they had most contact. In the usual in- and out-patient setting, patients preferred to be told about their condition by the consultant. In the clinic where they saw a nurse practitioner regularly, over half preferred to be told by her. The patients found it easier to discuss their condition with a nurse (particularly of a lower rank than a sister). Much came from spouses and other patients. The consultant and sister had important roles in reassuring the patients, but doctors were not successful in making patients feel useful and needed. Nurses were somewhat better--but not that good (30%). This was a vital role for the spouse, who nevertheless in hospital produced much anxiety, closely followed by visitors, other patients and doctors. Nurses and occupational therapists were very calming and relaxing people.