This paper is based on findings drawn from research undertaken within a qualitative framework of analysis. The purpose of the research was to explore women's experiences of rheumatoid arthritis. Three areas of concern to the women are identified and discussed in the light of relevant literature. They are as follows: seeking help, searching for meaning and uncertainty about symptoms. A major theoretical concern of both authors is to demonstrate the importance of placing patients' personal accounts of their experiences and understandings at the centre of nursing interest and practice. It is argued that there is a need to develop research studies of how patients experience disease, in order to develop a basis for good practice.