01/30/2012 05:54 pm ET

How Sick Do You Think You Are? It Could Affect Your Health Outcome

How sick you think you are may play a big role in your health outcome, according to a new review of research.

Researchers from the University of Auckland and the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College found that the way people perceive their own illness is directly related to them seeking out health care and following doctors' orders, and even their overall survival.

The study will be published in the journal Current Directions in Psychological Science.

"Patients' perceptions of their illness guide their decisions about health," study researcher Dr. Keith Petrie, of the University of Auckland, said in a statement.

In addition, a person can have the best doctor or treatment plan, but if that treatment doesn't fall in line with the way they perceive their illness to be, he or she may still not abide by it, researchers said.

Therefore, doctors should ask their patients about what they think about their illnesses to make sure they have accurate information about their health, and follow through with their treatments, they added.

Taking medicine as prescribed is important to not only avoid complications, but also to avoid future medical bills, the Associated Press reported.

The AP reported that people who don't take their medicine cost the United States about $290 billion a year, and those people also pay an extra $2,000 for out-of-pocket costs.

Recently, a study came out in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine showing that thinking positive thoughts and practicing self affirmation is linked with people being more likely to adhere to their medication regimen.