All of these tags have issues in use. The tag doesn't even exist. Perhaps it was prohibited because of overuse. As alternatives, the (203 question) and (54 questions) tags seem fine, but there's no meaningful distinction in use and doesn't even have an excerpt defining use.

Use this tag for questions regarding physical, chemical and biological factors that may affect human health.
- tag excerpt

Further, I'd say that many of the questions are or should be tagged , according to the excerpt, making the addition of , perhaps redundant.

Healthcare refers to the system or systems used to deliver medical care to patients. It may be a monolithic, government controlled system (like the NHS in some parts of the UK) or a mixed system of providers and insurers (as in the US). Healthcare is the way the delivery of medical science is organised (at least for the purposes of tagging on this site).
- tag excerpt

Additionally, we have (1096 questions) and I wonder if and are not better covered under this banner.

Use this tag for questions about the science of medicine and its practices. Use [medications] for questions about the actual cures that people take, and use [alternative-medicine] for claims about cures and practices which are claimed to be alternative to official medical science
- tag excerpt

Anyone with opinions, explanations, or suggestions?

  • I've edited the public health tag using language from the CDC. It's in the edit queue.
    – De Novo
    Commented Oct 5, 2018 at 18:45

3 Answers 3


I think the excerpts we have are good already. I wouldn't change them. If there's a distinction between and we should make it apparent in the excerpt, or one should be a synonym of the other. If is no different than , I suggest the former be a synonym of the latter. If doesn't cover those two, I suggest the excerpt be clarified to make the distinction. If it does cover them, I'd favor the two be synonyms.


The distinction between environmental health and public health doesn't make sense to me on Skeptics, which, as I understand it, is supposed to be accessible to a lay person. Environmental health can be understood a subset of public health, and is more of a way of approaching public health problems than a specific area of focus. It's not like the difference between medicine and infectious disease. I'd recommend merging environmental health and public health.

As far as medical science vs. the public health, I would definitely not merge those tags. Public health is about population level health. There are many medical science claims that wouldn't directly fit public health. Several of the questions currently tagged medical science could be conceptualized as public health questions (e.g., answered at a population level), but many aren't asked in that way, and some would require a stretch to be interpreted as a population level question, e.g., this question, which is about a claim regarding the mechanism of the allergic response, this question about a claim on the history of medical (among other) sciences in India, or this question about an anatomy claim.

Tagging this question as both medical sciences and public health, on the other hand, gives additional information about what the poster is asking about: there's a study to be evaluated, and there are both individual and population level implications.

Healthcare vs. the other tags, is also an important distinction. Healthcare refers to the process or infrastructure around health services.


I confirmed that the "health" tag has been banned (not directly with mod powers but at a level that requires Stack Exchange employee intervention). I have no recollection of when this happened or why.

I am happy to carry out the consensus of merging tags, but don't have strong opinions.

For each of these tags (, , and ) I see distinct semantic differences (which I think are defensible) which suggests they shouldn't be merged.

However, before I start waving my prescriptivist flag in the air and launch into a battle of definitions, we should remember two things:

  • If, in practice, the tags aren't being used how I think they should be used, and no-one is willing to keep an eye out and correct the occasional error, then they aren't doing any good.

  • Tags are never going to be a precise taxonomy for every question. They are just helpful breadcrumbs to help searching, to help people coming to the site follow up and find other questions in their area of interest and to help algorithms find duplicates and related questions. (Side-effect: They are also used for tag badges.)

So, I hope we can come up with a practical compromise, even if it violates the purity of my ideal of how people should use English.

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