Preliminary work regarding the development and pilot study of an individualized instructional program for rheumatoid arthritis clients is presented. The effect of the individualized instructional program was tested with 31 outpatients. Using analysis of covariance, the experimental group subjects scored significantly higher on the knowledge post-test when compared to scores of control group subjects (P = 0.0045). Analysis of variance for repeated measures revealed no significant difference in performance of tasks for the control group and experimental group (P = 0.08). In a follow-up study, the effect of the self-instructional program, practice time, and contracting were explored for their effect on adherence to self-care activities. Experimental groups (n = 42) scored significantly better than the control group (n = 11) on the knowledge post-test (P < 0.01), performance of joint protection practices (P = 0.01), range of motion exercises (P = 0.01), and adherence to joint protection practices at home (P < 0.01). Groups did not differ on adherence to range of motion exercises at home (P = 0.83).