Usually priorities in goal management—intended to minimize discrepancies between a given and desired situation—are studied as person characteristics, neglecting possible domain-specific aspects. However, people may make different decisions in different situations depending on the importance of the personal issues at stake. Aim of the present study therefore was to develop arthritis-related vignettes to examine domain-specific goal management and to explore patients’ preferences. Based on interviews and literature, situation-specific hypothetical stories were developed in which the main character encounters a problem with a valued goal due to arthritis. Thirty-one patients (61 % female, mean age 60 years) evaluated the face validity of the newly developed vignettes. Secondly, 262 patients (60 % female, mean age 63 years) were asked to come up with possible solutions for the problems with attaining a goal described in a subset of the vignettes. Goal management strategies within the responses and the preference for the various strategies were identified. The 11 developed vignettes in three domains were found to be face-valid. In 90 % of the responses, goal management strategies were identified (31 % goal maintenance, 29 % goal adjustment, 21 % goal disengagement, and 10 % goal re-engagement). Strategy preference was related to domains. Solutions containing goal disengagement were the least preferred. Using vignettes for measuring domain-specific goal management appears as valuable addition to the existing questionnaires. The vignettes can be used to study how patients with arthritis cope with threatened goals in specific domains from a patient’s perspective. Domain-specific strategy preference emphasizes the importance of a situation-specific instrument.