About The KEMA Study

We are conducting a new study on kratom entitled “Real-world momentary assessment of kratom use accompanied by product assays: A natural history study toward an interdisciplinary characterization of kratom use and pharmacology”!

That is a long name, so we typically refer to it as our Kratom Ecological Momentary Assessment (KEMA) study. Ecological momentary assessment is a method for collecting information from study participants in real time, in the moment, wherever they are. This is done using a secure app on a smartphone. This way, we can understand where, when, how, and why kratom is being used in people’s everyday lives.

Below are details about us and about the study so that you can decide if you are interested in participating.


Frequently Asked Questions

Click any of the questions below for more details.

This study is being conducted by Drs. David Epstein and Kirsten Smith from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) Intramural Research Program. Dr. Epstein’s lab is called the Real-world Assessment, Prediction, and Treatment (RAPT) Unit. We are located in Baltimore, Maryland, on the Johns Hopkins University Bayview Campus. We love the work that we do and we hope our work can build knowledge to help others.

Right now we are interested in learning more about kratom from those best equipped to educate us: the people who use kratom!

We brainstormed about the best next steps for kratom research. We decided we need more information from people who use kratom, and we need it from each person over a period of time, not just at one time point, like when you complete a survey.

Kratom surveys have been very important, and we have used them to develop this study, but we need to get information from people using kratom as they go about their everyday lives where they can answer questions about kratom, its effects, reasons for use, and how they feel it is benefiting or affecting them.

We are also doing this study because we want to collect other types of information, such as what kratom products people are using, so that we can analyze their chemical composition. Sometimes, when we say “kratom” we are really talking about many different things, as kratom products can vary considerably. We want to better understand that variability.

By doing this study, we hope to develop even better studies to understand how kratom impacts people.

Adults (age 18 years or older) who regularly use kratom.

Study Screening
The main study we are doing involves a few steps. First, people who are interested in the study complete a short screening questionnaire online. This is only used by our study team to
assess whether people are eligible. We never share your screening data with others (only our group at NIDA sees it). People who take the screening questionnaire will be emailed within a few days so they’ll know if they are eligible or not.

Study Enrollment and Participation
People who are eligible to participate in the study will be sent a link to read about the details of the study. This way, they will be fully informed before they decide whether they want to participate. If they do want to participate, then they’ll take a 10 item “study quiz” just to make sure they know what study involvement includes.

This link will also include a large set of questionnaires that will help us get a detailed history of health, substance use, demographics, kratom experiences, quality of life, and other things that will help us better understand factors associated with kratom use.

People will have 9 days from the time they are sent their email notifying them that they are eligible to complete the “study quiz” and the big set of questionnaires.

After 9 days (on day 10) the link expires, and people will no longer be able to enroll in the study.

During this 9-day period, people can read over the details and contact us with questions. After 9 days the link will expire, and uncompleted questionnaires will be deleted and not used in the study.

Because we only have a limited number of people we can enroll in the study, we can only realistically allow people to screen once and, for those who are eligible, to have just one opportunity to complete the “study quiz” and the questionnaires within the 9-day window.

Part of the reason for this is because the study involves answering questions in a timely, regular manner and it may be that the study is not a good fit for people who cannot complete
the “study quiz” and questionnaires within 9 days.

After this, you will be provided with a link that will prompt you to download our secure study app. The study app is then downloaded onto your smartphone. We will give you plenty of instructions and tips on how best to use the app over the course of the study.

For 15 days you will use the study app to answer short sets of questions that we send you at different times of day. These will come in the form of notifications or alerts. You will also enter in information about your kratom use and experiences.

You can communicate with the study team using this secure app, in addition to other methods of communication.

This 15-day period of completing questions in real-time on your smartphone is critical. People can only remain in the study if they are responding to the prompts and participating actively each day.

Even though the questions we ask aren’t too long, they do require you to have your phone on, charged, and any “do not disturb” features turned off.

People also must complete the questions shortly after the notification. After that, they expire.

So, even though this is not a challenging study, it does require commitment, diligence, and a true desire to participate!

No. Our study app only collects the information and data that you enter. It does not track your location or have access to anything else. It does not collect any form of passive data, just what you put in.

No. The only personally identifiable information we collect from you will be done during our online questionnaires on a secure platform that only our study team has access to. We will never use your study data with your personal information that could identify you or threaten your privacy.

No. All data is used for research purposes only. Our study team will remove any identifiers before we or any of our scientific collaborators examine the data.

After your first week of answering questions on your smartphone, we will send you a pre-paid, pre-addressed shipping container and supplies. You will use these during your second week of study participation to send a small sample of the kratom product you are using most often so that it can be analyzed in a lab specifically equipped to analyze kratom samples.

We will provide detailed instructions to help you each step of the way. Once you have packaged your small sample, all you need to do is drop it off!

Remember, nothing that could identify you personally will be attached to your kratom product sample.

Yes. Participants will be paid for completing the study questionnaires and for daily study participation using the study app. Participants will also receive a completion bonus for mailing a small sample of your kratom product.

Completing the short screening questionnaire is not compensated, just activities that begin after you are eligible and enrolled.

If all study activities are completed, then participants will receive $170.

Currently, we can compensate you electronically using PayPal (which is the most secure form of electronic payment) or electronic Amazon gift card. We are exploring other ways to compensate participants electronically, but for right now, these are our approved methods.

The completion bonus for mailing in your kratom product sample will occur after we have verified via the tracking number that it has been mailed.

As soon as we have verified that your kratom product sample has been shipped and we have compensated you, then you will no longer be enrolled in the study as you will have successfully completed it!

If you still have questions that you’d like to ask before you screen, you can email the study team at kema.study@nih.gov.

Please note that due to the high level of interest in the study, we cannot respond to everyone as quickly as we would like. We want to ensure that we personally read and respond to each inquiry that we receive. But rest assured we will respond to your email inquiry.


What Now?

We have given you a very broad picture of the study, but we hope that it helps you decide if you’d like to take part in the study.

Screening is voluntary as is study participation.

If you are eligible for the study, then we will provide you with a lot more information about the study before you make the decision to enroll. Remember! Once you complete the screening questionnaire and are notified by the study team via NIH email that you are eligible (which takes about 2 business days), you will have only 9 days to complete the “study quiz” and the big set of questionnaires.

If you are interested in the study, but you do not think you will be able to proceed with the next steps for participation right now, then consider waiting til a later time. After you complete the screening questionnaire once, you cannot complete it again, even if you were eligible the first time.