The purpose of this study was to identify the stressors perceived by individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and to describe coping strategies used to cope with illness-related stressors and their perceived effectiveness. Data were collected from 53 patients attending a rheumatology clinic. Results revealed that pain was the predominantly perceived stressor followed by limitation in mobility, difficulties in carrying out activities of daily living, helplessness, dependency on others, threat to self-esteem, interference in social activity, interference in family relationships, difficulties performing at work, and discomfort of the treatment. Subjects used optimistic and confrontive coping strategies more frequently than other coping strategies and optimistic coping strategies were perceived to be most effective. Point biserial correlation revealed a number of significant relationships between specific stressors and use of coping strategies: interference in family relationships and use of evasive coping strategies (r=0.27, P<0.05), and threat to self-esteem and use of both evasive (r=0.45, P<0.01) and emotive (r=0.28, P<0.01) coping strategies. Similarly, a number of significant relationships were found between specific stressors and the effectiveness of the coping strategies: interference in family relationships and the effectiveness of both evasive (r=0.31, P<0.05) and emotive (r=0.38, P<0.01) coping strategies, and threat to self-esteem and the effectiveness of emotive coping (r=0.29, P<0.05).