In this issue of Arthritis Care & Research, we present the eighth in a series of themed issues, which are designed to highlight state-of-the-art information in a field of relevance to rheumatology. The topic for this themed issue is quality of care in the rheumatic diseases. A solicitation for manuscripts for the ninth theme, concerning vascular comorbidity in the rheumatic diseases, has already been published in the Journal. The manuscripts submitted for the themed issues navigate the usual peer-review process of Arthritis Care & Research, and therefore meet the same rigorous standards as articles in this or any other issue.

Research concerning the impact of quality of care has grown substantially since the publication of the landmark Institute of Medicine report, To Err is Human (Kohn KT, Corrigan JM, Donaldson MS. To err is human: building a safer health system. Washington [DC]: National Academy Press; 1999) slightly more than a decade ago. Clearly, the American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has become a major player in quality issues nationally. The ACR devotes considerable resources to quality of care through the activities of the Quality of Care Committee (and subcommittees on practice guidelines, drug safety, classification criteria, and quality measures) and participation in the national dialogue about quality measurement and improvement.

For this special issue, Arthritis Care & Research received 39 manuscripts, of which 7 have successfully navigated our peer review system and are published in this issue. In the first, Saag and colleagues writing on behalf of an ACR Taskforce define the attributes necessary for adequate measurement of quality in rheumatology. Chehade et al describe the results of an attempt to incorporate quality concerns into medical school curricula in Australia (although the impact of their committee's deliberations will be applicable throughout the developed world). Borkhoff et al reviewed the literature on the effectiveness of interventions to improve outcomes for disadvantaged populations with osteoarthritis, finding that few studies specifically address this central concern of health policy. Hunter et al emphasize the extent to which actual care for osteoarthritis is at odds with evidenced-based recommendations for the treatment of this condition. Gillis and colleagues provide the evidence base for quality indicators for pregnancy and reproductive health among women with systemic lupus erythematosus. Finally, Widdifield et al, and Lovell et al report on the care received by seniors with early onset rheumatoid arthritis and children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, respectively.

The quality movement in health care is not a passing fad, as demonstrated by the expanding volume of research literature as well as the increasing public knowledge in this area. We fully expect that this will not be the last time that Arthritis Care & Research devotes a substantial number of pages to an exploration of quality of care in the rheumatic diseases.