A new conceptual framework has enabled the flexible development of rheumatological patient educational programs for different healthcare settings. On this basis, a 5‑h basic training program for patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) was developed to be used in specialized centers. Rheumatologists and psychologists were first trained and then the efficacy of the patient training program was evaluated based on the causal model of patient education. The externally randomized waiting control group study with 249 RA patients included 3 measurement points. The impact of the 5‑h basic training on disease and treatment-related knowledge as well as health competence of RA patients was examined. Secondary questions included attitudinal parameters, communication competence, effects on the disease and satisfaction with the educational program. Data were analyzed on an intention to treat basis by means of covariance analyses for the main target variables, adjusted for baseline values. The analyses showed that the training program was effective. Even 3 months after training, participants reported more knowledge and health competence than the waiting control group, with small to medium-sized effects (d = 0.37 and 0.38, respectively). With the exception of disease communication, no other effects of training were observed in the secondary objectives. The basic training program provides a good foundation to develop further interventions to improve attitudinal and disease parameters. It can serve as a central component for rheumatological healthcare for patients with RA at various levels.