Patient education surveys were completed by 101 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and by 28 rheumatologists to assess and compare patients' reports with physicians' perceptions of patients' needs regarding content, provider, and education program delivery methods. Both groups agreed on the importance of patients' education about arthritis, especially on the topics of medication, physician/patient communication, quackery, and maintaining ambulation. A higher proportion of physicians reported that patient education was needed in psychosocial areas, activities of daily living, sexual concerns, and community resources. Patients sought more education in disease process, diagnostic procedures, and nutrition. Patients rated pharmacists and nutritionists significantly more important as educational sources than did physicians. Both groups reported individual patient/practitioner meetings as the preferred delivery method. Physicians reported group education to be valuable for some psychosocial topics; patients disagreed significantly. Despite considerable consensus, disagreements were evident in the psychosocial area and in the role of allied health professionals. Clarification, understanding, and resolution of these differences should be sought before implementing patient education programs.