You are being invited to take part in this study investigating the effect of microdosing psychedelic substances on brain performance and mental health. ‘Microdosing’ refers to the practice of taking psychedelic substances (e.g. psilocybin or lysergic acid diethylamide; LSD) in small, sub-perceptual amounts on a regular basis. While there are many subjective, anecdotal reports online, on blogs, and in books, there are few peer-reviewed research studies. The effects of microdosing on sensation and neurophysiology remains largely unexplored. The purpose of this study is to gather quantitative and qualitative data of both a microdosing and non-microdosing group to gain a better understanding of the effects of microdosing on brain performance and mental health. The results of this study will generate hypotheses for future research and provide an improved understanding of the effects of microdosing which ideally, will lead to better safety and maximize potential benefits.
Who is conducting this study?
This study is being conducted by Dr. Zachary Walsh, an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of British Columbia. If you have any questions about the study, or if you do not understand something, please make sure that all of your questions have been answered before consenting to participate in this study by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please read this explanation about the study and its risks and benefits before you decide if you would like to take part.
The results of this study may be published publicly online, in journal articles, magazines, books, and/or presented at academic conferences. All data will be entirely anonymous and confidential.
Who is funding this study?
There is no funding for this study. Quantified Citizen and its staff are providing technical support, software services, and consultation on the study, but have no control over data analysis.
What am I being asked to do?
You do not need to use psychedelics at any dose to take part in this study. We are interested in observing those who are microdosing, and those who are not. You will not be provided with psychedelic substances, or with instructions on where to obtain them or how to use them.
If you choose to be in the study, you will be asked to download the Quantified Citizen app, onto your phone and complete an intake questionnaire. This includes basic demographic information (age, sex, level of education, employment status), basic medical history (major health concerns, mental health diagnoses, head injuries, neurological conditions, and pre-existing issues with visual acuity, color discrimination, hearing), and self-reported use of psychedelics. You will then be asked to complete a set of self-administered cognitive performance and mental health assessments. This entire intake process will take about 30 minutes.
Regardless if you are microdosing or not, you will be asked to go about your normal daily routines for up to 3 months. Completing brief daily questionnaires that should take you about 5 minutes each day. You will be asked to repeat the battery of cognitive performance and mental health assessments (same as the baseline) on a monthly basis. That should take you about 20 minutes each time. Finally, at the end of 3 months, or whenever you decide to finish, you will be asked to complete a short closing survey that will take about 5 minutes. This study asks for about9 hours of your time over the 3-month study period. Throughout the study, if you turn on notifications, you will be reminded to complete the daily questionnaires and monthly battery of assessments. Once you have completed your assessment or questionnaire, the notifications will stop.
You will also have the option to allow Quantified Citizen to access your Apple Health or Google Fit data. Within the app, a pop-up will ask you if Quantified Citizen is allowed to access your Apple Health or Google Fit Data. This is not required to participate in the study. You may turn this off at any time in the “settings” function on your phone. There are no known additional risks to opting in to this option. None of the Apple Health or Google Fit data collected will include any personally identifiable information. Data collected is limited to Sleep, Steps, Heart rate, and Mindfulness minutes.
The QC app is free. After you have completed the study, you may keep the app on your phone to be informed of future studies. You may also delete it. If you delete the app, you will still be able to access the summary of your results and aggregated data on the Quantified Citizen website with your username.
Will I be paid for participating?
No, you will not be paid for participating.
What are the risks of participating?
Psychedelics, including LSD, psilocybin (magic mushrooms), and MDMA, are controlled and illegal substances in Canada and many other countries. Participating in this study does not make them legal. There is some risk relating to admitting to using illegal substances, especially in relation to crossing international borders. You are responsible for conforming with the laws of your jurisdiction and understanding the risks of crossing borders where laws may differ. If you are choosing to microdose, you are already familiar with the practice and would be doing so regardless of your participation in this study.
No data will be stored on your phone while the study is ongoing. As soon as you complete a survey or active task, your data are securely sent to encrypted QC servers. Should there ever be a security access concern to your phone, no study data are accessible to you or any third-party. The QC app is also password-protected. This adds an additional layer of security.
There is little known about the positive or negative effects of microdosing. Some research suggests that some people experience beneficial effects such as improved mood and focus. Negative effects such as physiological discomfort and increased anxiety have also been reported.
Some of the questions asked in this study examine topics of a personal nature (e.g. mental health and psychedelic use). You do not have to answer all of the questions if you do not want to. If you do not feel comfortable with the content of the study, please do not participate. If feelings of discomfort or sensitivity arise for you during the study, remember that you may stop at any time without explanation or penalty. If required, please seek additional support in your area.
Who can participate?
If you meet any of the following criteria, you will NOT be able to participate in this study:
- Under the “age of majority” in your place of residence (e.g. 18 years of age in British Columbia)
- Not fluent in English
- Not able to give adequate informed consent
- Females of childbearing potential: pregnant, breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant during the study period
You will need secure access to a personal mobile device (cell phone or tablet) to run the app on.
If you meet any of the following criteria, you may still participate in the study. However, microdosing is not advised. You will be asked to acknowledge that you are proceeding at your own risk if you do choose to microdose:
- History or active diagnosis of psychotic disorders or other severe psychiatric disorders (anxiety, depression, psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc.)
- Family history (first or second-degree relative) of psychosis, bipolar, schizophrenia, or major affective disorder)
- History of diagnosed progressive neurological condition (e.g. multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, etc.)
- History of substance use disorder / addiction
What are the benefits of participating?
There are no direct benefits to you being in this study. However, you may gain an increased awareness of how microdosing affects various aspects of your own health and well-being or how measures of your health and well-being fluctuate over time. By participating in this study, you may help increase the current scientific understanding of the effects of psychedelic microdosing.
Will my information be kept confidential?
All information obtained during the study will be entirely anonymous. All digital data collection will be self-administered. You will get a unique, randomly generated username and your identity will remain anonymous. Please write down this username and keep it in a secure location. You will need it to login into the app should you lose your phone as well as to access your individual data summary and aggregated data. If for any reason you no longer have access to your QC account, and you do not remember your username, QC will not be able to regenerate your account.
You will never be asked to provide your real name, address, or date of birth. Averaged group data may be published or publicly presented, but it will not be possible to identify individual participants from this data.
The Quantified Citizen app will not have access to any of your personal identifying information. Quantified Citizen will only access IP addresses from server logs for security and quality control and will delete them every 48 hours to limit indirect identifiers. Only authorized QC staff can access server logs based on their role and a need-to-know basis in order to fulfill their duties. IP addresses are not included in the data that will be analyzed in this study.
All of the data you enter into the Quantified Citizen app will be encrypted and stored in perpetuity on servers located in Canada. Anonymous data will be accessible to all researchers involved with this study.
The UBC data will be backed up on an external hard drive and stored for at least five years in Dr. Walsh’s locked file cabinet. Data will be kept for 5 years following publication of the research at which point the data on the external hard drive and UBC’s server will be wiped clean.
If you would like to hear about future Quantified Citizen studies, you may provide your email address on the Quantified Citizen website (quantifiedcitizen.com). It will not be possible to link your study data with the email address you provide. This list of emails will not be considered study data and will not be shared with UBC.
Can I say ‘no’?
Your participation in this study is strictly voluntary. You may decline to enter or withdraw from the study at any time without any consequences or explanation. Should you choose to leave the study, you will be given the option to complete a final assessment and then be logged out of your account., No new data will be collected. Data that has already been collected will still be used in the study and cannot be deleted because it will already be anonymized and encrypted.
If you choose to stop the study, you will be presented with the following message: “Thank you for your participation to date. We’re sorry to see you go, but we understand and respect your choice. You are invited to complete a final questionnaire, which is optional. Please note that all data you have previously entered cannot be deleted because it has already been anonymized and encrypted.”
What if I have questions about the study?
If you have any general questions about the study, please contact Dr. Zachary Walsh at email@example.com. If you have questions about the Quantified Citizen app, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. If you ask a question, we will be able to view your email address. However, your email address will not be linked to your data in any way. If you have concerns about your privacy and wish to ask a question, please create an anonymous email address at protonmail.com. This service is free, anonymous, and encrypted.
If you have any concerns or complaints about your rights as a research participant and/or your experiences while participating in this study, contact the Research Participant Complaint Line in the UBC Office of Research Services at 1-877-822-8598 or the UBC Okanagan Research Services Office at 250-807-8832. It is also possible to contact the Research Participant Complaint Line by email (RSIL@ors.ubc.ca). Please reference the study number (H19-03051) when contacting the Complaint Line so the staff can better assist you.
By agreeing to participate in this study, you acknowledge that all of your questions pertaining to the current study have been answered. A copy of this consent form is available through the app at any time for your reference. Your participation in this study is entirely voluntary and you may refuse to participate or withdraw from the study at any time.