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The theory-practice relationship and the use of communication and interpersonal skills in nursing have been recurrently identified as issues causing concern Four research questions form the basis of this small-scale exploratory study investigating the views of nurse teachers, mentors and students into the theory-practice relationship with regard to the communication and interpersonal skills theme of the Project 2000 common foundation programme (CFP) for British nursing students Hierarchical focusing, involving individual interviews with teachers and mentors and small-group interviews with students, was undertaken Volunteer sampling was used Qualitative data analysis was undertaken using content analysis Results are summarized with regard to each main research question There was little consensus of opinion amongst participants, and the nature of the theory-practice relationship with regard to the communication and interpersonal skills theme for the CFP remains unclear However, there was agreement that communication is fundamental to nursing and that the socialization process strongly influences the development of communication and interpersonal skills There appears to be a reliance on mentors to assess student progress and determine whether they have knowledge underpinning practice Classroom teaching was recognized as idealistic but the divisions in participants' opinions led to difficulty in determining whether a theory-practice gap actually exists The main influences on the theory-practice relationship were the mentor's knowledge of the curriculum and mentoring system, the short amount of time spent in each placement and relationships between teachers, mentors and students Recommendations include the need to ensure the reliability and validity of progressive assessment