A structure for representation of patient outcome is presented, together with a method for outcome measurement and validation of the technique in rheumatoid arthritis. The paradigm represents outcome by five separate dimensions: death, discomfort, disability, drug (therapeutic) toxicity, and dollar cost. Each dimension represents an outcome directly related to patient welfare. Quantitation of these outcome dimensions may be performed at interview or by patient questionnaire. With standardized, validated questions, similar scores are acheived by both methods. The questionnaire technique is preferred since it is inexpensive and does not require interobserver validation. These techniques appear extremely useful for evaluation of long term outcome of patients with rheumatic diseases.