The present follow-up study investigated the differential effects of dispositional coping styles on change in nine clinical syndromes of the Axis I spectrum of the DSM-III-R. Subjects were 155 psychiatric outpatients who were examined 6 and 7 years after their enrollment in the study. Coping accounted for up to 9% of the variance of symptom change over 1 year. As hypothesized, the effects of different coping styles varied considerably across the clinical syndromes. Active goal-oriented coping improved symptoms of the anxiety and the dependency spectrum; seeking social support had beneficial effects on symptoms of the depressive spectrum. The effects of the coping styles distraction, use of alcohol and other drugs, and focusing on and venting of emotions were detrimental, but again in a specific way. The results suggest that the differentiation of outcome criteria for coping is important. © 1996 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.