Ascellus Blog

Addressing Mental Health Factors to Improve Workers’ Outcomes: An Ascellus COVID-19 Study published in JOEM

August 12, 2022
Clinical Researcher

Ascellus conducted a study from May 2020 to August 2021 to assess the benefits of work-focused cognitive behavioral therapy (W-CBT) for frontline workers suffering delayed recovery from COVID-19 due to psychosocial stressors and/or mental disorders. Published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, “Addressing Mental Health Factors to Improve Outcomes in Work-Related COVID-19” demonstrates the results of this study, which suggest that brief work-focused cognitive behavior therapy coupled with customary outpatient medical treatment for COVID-19 effectively reduces frontline essential workers’ recovery time and helps them overcome stress, anxiety, depressed mood and other psychological symptoms linked with returning to work.


Contributing to the article were Ascellus’s own Daniel Legoff, PhD, LP; Miranda Kofeldt, PhD, LP; Aimee Peters, LCSW; Hiren Ghayal, PsyD, and clinical advisor to Ascellus Jacob Lazarovic MD, who studied 103 participants with identified psychological or psychosocial factors that interfered with their recovery and had lost 104 injury-related workdays, on average, prior to referral. The research involved comparisons of patients’ pre-treatment and post-treatment recoveries, their work status and their self-ratings of daily functioning. After receiving W-CBT, there was a 40% improvement in work relevant functioning and 80% of participants returned to work within 12 weeks.


W-CBT is effective at helping injured workers who have been negatively affected by stress, anxiety and depressed mood in their recovery from COVID-19 and return-to-work processes. The W-CBT model emphasizes the way in which the workers compensation system effects the dynamics of illness and injury, treatment and return to work planning, integrated with interventions focused on disrupting damaging thought patterns, increasing positive behaviors and improving adaptive coping skills to accelerate physical and psychological recovery. W-CBT programs can improve claims costs and get injured frontline workers back to health and wellness faster.


Dr. Daniel B. LeGoff, Ph.D., LP, is the Clinical Quality Assurance Advisor, overseeing injured workers with head injuries referred to Ascellus. A licensed neuropsychologist with more than 25 years of clinical experience, Dr. LeGoff has held many prestigious clinical and teaching positions at Ivy League universities and government and healthcare institutions nationwide. Dr. LeGoff was embedded as a neuropsychologist at a rehabilitation program at a large workers’ compensation organization. A world-renowned speaker, author and expert in personal development and cognitive behavioral therapy, Dr. LeGoff has conducted professional training worldwide.


Dr. Miranda Kofeldt, Ph.D., LP, is the Clinical Director and Clinical Quality Assurance Advisor at Ascellus. Having earned a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, Behavioral Medicine from the University of Maryland Baltimore County, Dr. Kofeldt has clinical expertise in treating trauma, substance use and other health behaviors and the psychological sequelae of physical health conditions. Her extensive training and experience also include the use of motivational enhancement techniques. Dr. Kofeldt has co-authored textbook chapters published by the American Psychiatric Association and contributed to the Gender, Women, and the Tobacco Epidemic monograph for the World Health Organization.


Aimee Peters, LCSW, is the Chief Clinical Innovation Officer at Ascellus. With nearly 25 years of clinical expertise, strategic acumen, product and program development and leadership in the behavioral health industry, Peters has pioneered virtual behavioral healthcare, increasing access and high-quality behavioral healthcare to many of the US’s largest health insurers across all 50 states. Driven by a passion for promoting telehealth adoption, Aimee serves as an adjunct professor at Columbia University School of Social Work where she developed the University’s telemental health care curriculum.


Hiren Ghayal, PsyD, is a Clinical Quality Advisor at Ascellus, managing clinical services for injured workers and educating providers on clinical processes. A licensed clinical psychologist and graduate of Midwestern University, Dr. Ghayal completed his APA-accredited internship at Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital and his post-doctoral fellowship requirements at Hartgrove Behavioral Health System. He has experience working in supervisory and patient advocacy roles, and his professional interests include integrated medical and behavioral healthcare, business development/data driven technology operations and management and development of high-quality, cost-effective and integrated clinical programs.

Jacob Lazarovic, MD, is a clinical advisor to Ascellus with nearly 40 years of medical administration/managed care experience. Dr. Lazarovic has served as Medical Director at HealthAmerica, as Medical Director at Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Florida/Health Options and as Vice President for Clinical Affairs at Vivra, Inc. He also spent 18 years as Chief Medical Officer at Broadspire/CRAWFORD, a global third-party administrator of workers’ compensation, disability, auto and medical product liability claims. Currently a consultant, Dr. Lazarovic serves as CMO responsible for the development of advanced, evidence-based clinical applications at MyAbilities Technologies, a medical software and services company in the workers’ compensation and disability sector.

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Ascellus bridges the gap between mental and physical health to accelerate recovery for our nation's workforce. By connecting the workers' compensation industry with our expert behavioral care and evidence-based treatments, we deliver high-quality outcomes, helping injured workers reemerge with increased strength, purpose and resilience in the workplace.