Results of the first step in assessment of quality of care for patients with osteoarthrosis using short-term outcome measures, where "short-term" indicates within one year of the initial encounter for care. An expert panel used an extensive literature review and clinical judgment to select outcome criteria and develop standards. Short-term outcome criteria thought to be sensitive to variations in quality of care include functional capacity, pain level, medication use, results of surgery, participation in usual social activities, drug dependence, outlook on life, depression, anxiety, sexual function, economic dependence, and satisfaction with marital relationship. Panel members also identified clinical and sociodemographic variables that must be controlled for when comparing outcomes of groups of patients. In addition, criteria for selecting patients for whom these outcome criteria and standards are applicable and the appropriate times for outcome assessment are discussed. The authors conclude that use of outcome measures is a useful and feasible approach to assessment of quality of care for patients with osteoarthrosis.