Arthritis is a chronic disease that is estimated to affect 14.5% of the American population and is the leading cause of functional dependency in the activities of daily living (ADLs) and the instrumental activities of daily living (IADLs) in all persons over the age of 65 years. Clinical studies have shown that medical care, including the use of medications, can offer a 20-50% improvement in reported arthritis symptoms. Data from patient education studies suggest that a further improvement of 15-30% is attainable through patient education interventions. This literature review has been completed to update the reviews of patient education studies by Lorig and Riggs in 1983 and Lorig, Konkol, and Gonzalez in 1987. More specifically, the objectives of this review are: (1) to provide a summary of arthritis patient education studies published or presented since 1987; (2) to summarize the findings concerning the effectiveness of arthritis patient education studies which attempt to change knowledge, behavior, psychosocial status, and health status; (3) to discuss shifting trends in observed outcomes of arthritis patient education studies; and (4) to discuss implications for the future.