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Currently submitted to: JMIR Research Protocols

Date Submitted: Sep 25, 2020
Open Peer Review Period: Sep 19, 2020 - Nov 14, 2020
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Characterization of e-psychonauts and the new substances they consume: Protocol for a new Internet-based, Longitudinal Observational Methodology

  • Marc Grifell; 
  • Guiem Mir Fusté; 
  • Mireia Ventura Vilamala; 
  • Liliana Galindo Guarín; 
  • Xoán Carbón Mallol; 
  • Carl L Hart; 
  • Víctor Pérez Solà; 
  • Francesc Colom Victoriano



During the last few years, the continuous emergence of new psychoactive substances (NPS) has become an important public health challenge. Not only has its use been rising both directly and as adulterants of traditional drugs, but also the number of new substances has been rising at a speed way beyond current scientific methodologies capacities. This has caused a remarkable absence of necessary information about newer drug effects on people who use drugs, mental Health professionals and policy makers. Current scientific methodologies have failed to provide enough data in the timeframe when critical decisions must be made, being not only too slow, but also too square. Last, but not least, they dramatically lack high resolution of phenomenological details


To characterize a population of e-psychonauts and the subjective effects of the NPS they used during the study duration using a new, internet-based, fast and inexpensive methodology. This would allow bridging an evidence gap between online surveys, which do not provide substance confirmation, and clinical trials, which are too slow and expensive to keep up with the new substances appearing every week.


To cover this purpose we designed a highly personalized, observational longitudinal study methodology. Participants will be recruited from online communities of people who use NPS and they will be followed online by means of a continuous objective and qualitative evaluation lasting for at least a year. Also, participants will send samples of the substances they intend to use during that period so they can be analyzed and matched with the effects they report on the questionnaires.


The research protocol was approved by the Hospital del Mar Research Institute (IMIM) IRB on the 11th of December of 2018. Data collection started in August 2019 and is still ongoing. ON September 26, 2020, 182 candidates have been screened and 60 participants accepted. From those, 16 have fully complied with the study requirements. Data analysis is expected to begin in November 2020 and the results are expected to be submitted for publication during 2021.


Not available when the protocol is submitted Clinical Trial: Study approved by Hospital del Mar Research Institute IRB (IMIM-CEIC): 2018/8283/I


Please cite as:

Grifell M, Mir Fusté G, Ventura Vilamala M, Galindo Guarín L, Carbón Mallol X, Hart CL, Pérez Solà V, Colom Victoriano F

Characterization of e-psychonauts and the new substances they consume: Protocol for a new Internet-based, Longitudinal Observational Methodology

JMIR Preprints. 25/09/2020:24433

DOI: 10.2196/preprints.24433


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