Background: Education innovations by health professions faculty are shaped by faculty conceptualizations of the pathway between their innovations and changes in health of communities.
Aims: We aimed to explore how existing theories about the relationship between education and health are attended to, interpreted, and applied by faculty in different national contexts.
Methods: We compared existing theoretical frameworks to perceptions of "front line" faculty. Fellows in Brazil- and India-based FAIMER faculty development programs were asked via questionnaires about the contribution of their education innovation projects to health improvements.
Results: Faculty identified pathways to improved societal health via increased quality, and to a lesser extent relevance, of education. Relationships between increased quantity of education and improved health were focused on faculty development. Faculty from both countries noted the value for health outcomes of innovations that affect networks and partnerships with other institutions. Faculty from India identified pathways to improved societal health via changes to instructional more than institutional processes.
Conclusions: Results indicate where there are gaps in existing theories, a need to raise awareness about potential pathways to improving health via education changes, and opportunities for more detailed understanding of mechanisms of change via in-depth research.