BACKGROUND Patient satisfaction has rarely been defined. It is a multi-dimensional concept and relates to expectations and preferences for care. This paper reports the findings of a study to determine the expectations and preferences of rheumatology patients for their follow-up monitoring care. AIMS AND OBJECTIVES To identify the dimensions of satisfaction important to rheumatology patients in the provision of their care in two locations; primary and secondary. The objectives were to determine the expectations and preferences of this group and to gather data to inform a larger study of patient satisfaction. DESIGN This small qualitative study used semi-structured interviews with a convenient sample of 10 patients; five from each location. METHODS Interviews were recorded and transcribed. Qualitative data analysis revealed a framework and conceptual categories. RESULTS Empathy, specialism, information provision, technical aspects, time, and continuity of care were identified as being important in the provision of care for this group of patients. CONCLUSIONS These categories had already been found in a validated questionnaire and justified the use of this tool in the larger comparative study. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE Patient satisfaction cannot be accurately assessed unless important categories of care are identified and used in the measurement tool.