Non-disclosure of widowhood in Nepal: Implications for women and their children

Pamela J. Surkan, Elena T. Broaddus, Abina Shrestha, Lily Thapa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Non-disclosure of significant or emotionally charged information can have psychological and physical health consequences. Widowhood in Nepal is highly stigmatised and therefore is a sensitive topic. This study sought to understand why and to whom women do not disclose their status as widows. Thematic content analysis of 31 in-depth interviews and 6 focus groups was conducted with primarily high-caste widows of reproductive age from the Kathmandu Valley, Surkhet, Chitwan and Kavre districts of Nepal. A codebook was developed based upon recurring concepts and applied to all transcripts using Atlas.ti. Due to discomfort or stigmatisation, many women concealed their status as widows in the community through behaviours impacting their daily lives. Non-disclosure to children was frequently described, often as a way to protect them from psychological sequelae. Concealment of widowhood is a coping strategy Nepali women use to shield themselves against societal stigma and to manage bereavement in their children. Efforts are needed to support widows in dealing with mental health issues related to disclosure and the psychosocial impact on their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-390
Number of pages12
JournalGlobal public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 16 2015


  • Nepal
  • child health
  • mental health
  • widowhood
  • women's health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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