Outcomes can be described as either physician or patient-oriented depending on whose perspective is adopted. Both perspectives offer different yet complementary information. Traditionally, the effectiveness of interventions has been evaluated in terms of physician-oriented outcomes. recently there has been a growing recognition of the importance of the patient's point of view in assessing the outcomes of medical care. This is now held to be central to the monitoring and evaluation of health care. This review describes these two perspectives and compares the nature of the information provided by each.