A study was performed in 86 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) to assess their health problems, the problems they experience in adhering to health recommendations and the relationships of these problems with self-efficacy and social support. Feeling dependent, disability and pain were the most important health related problems. The results showed self-efficacy to be related to the subjective experience of health status as measured by DUTCH-AIMS. Social emotional support was not related to health status and contrary to what we expected social instrumental support was positively related to health status. The majority of the patients (55%) experienced adherence problems with health recommendations. These problems were not related to functional incapacity, pain or other aspects of health status but to the patient's self-efficacy expectations about coping with arthritis. Our conclusion is that to improve the self-management of disability and pain and adherence to health recommendations, patient education should be aimed at strengthening self-efficacy expectations in which social emotional support might be a motivating factor.